Bronchoscopic removal of foreign bodies in adults: experience with 62 patients from 1974-1998

A Debeljak, J Sorli, E Music, P Kecelj
European Respiratory Journal 1999, 14 (4): 792-5
The authors reviewed their experience with therapeutic bronchoscopy for removal of tracheobronchial foreign bodies in the adult. Bronchoscopy records and collection of foreign bodies in the endoscopic department were retrospectively examined. Among 37,466 bronchoscopies performed between 1974-1998, 62 (0.2%) were performed for the removal of tracheobronchial foreign bodies. Medical history was suggestive of foreign body aspiration in 33 patients and the chest radiograph was suggestive in 10 patients. The procedure was performed with the flexible bronchoscope in 42 patients (68%), rigid bronchoscope in 4 (6%), and with both in 16 (26%) patients. Foreign bodies were found in the right bronchial tree on 42 occasions, in the left on 20 and in the trachea once. In 39 patients, inflammatory granulations were found around the foreign body. The origins of the foreign bodies included: bone fragments (n=31), vegetable (n=10), broncholith (n=8), a part of dental prosthesis (n=7), endodontic needle (n=2), a metallic (n=2), or plastic (n=1) particle, a tracheostomy tube (n=1) and a match (n=1). In one patient, 2 foreign bodies were found. The foreign bodies were successfully removed in all but 2 patients (3%). The most useful instruments for removal were alligator forceps and the wire basket. Foreign bodies in the tracheobronchial system are rare in adults. They can be successfully removed in the majority of patients under either flexible or rigid bronchoscopy.

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